Living with TBI: Author addresses trauma through poetry

Eden Prairie Author Louise Mathewson reads from her book, “A Life Interrupted: Living with Brain Injury,” during a book discussion last week at Eden Prairie Senior Center.  (Sun staff photo by Natalie Conrad)
Eden Prairie Author Louise Mathewson reads from her book, “A Life Interrupted: Living with Brain Injury,” during a book discussion last week at Eden Prairie Senior Center. (Sun staff photo by Natalie Conrad)

A patch of black ice left Eden Prairie Author Louise Mathewson reeling with a Traumatic Brain Injury, but instead of giving in, she decided to use her passion for writing to heal and reach out to others struggling with trauma.

“I want to show people that writing can be helpful,” Mathewson said. “The power of word is inspirational.”

Mathewson hosted a special reading and discussion event for her new book, “A Life Interrupted: Living with Brain Injury,” last week at the Eden Prairie Senior Center.

Writing her new book of transformative poetry helped her release frustration and confusion as she coped with the changes following a crash that left her in a coma for two weeks. Coming back from the coma was just the beginning of recovery, followed by several months in rehabilitation. Specialists helped Mathewson with everything from learning how to walk and regain memories to comprehension and writing.

“I had such beautiful handwriting and I struggled to re-learn how to write,” Mathewson said. “It was sad to see my writing start out so awful and have to start all over again.”

After months of work in speech, occupational and physical therapy, Mathewson began meeting with a writing mentor. Using words to express her feelings on dealing with TBI, she was able to regain confidence and heal through passages that would eventually fill the pages of the new book that she had not even intended to write.

While some of the biggest challenges have already been overcome, Mathewson still deals with the long term effects of the tragic accident. Short-term memory, organization and comprehension are still ongoing sore spots. She is also easily overwhelmed, which causes her to avoid busy congested places like shopping malls, movie theaters and unfamiliar driving routes. At the age of 66, Mathewson struggles to identify what it is to be a normal senior.

“I’ve developed a lot of coping mechanisms, but it’s hard to tell now what is caused by TBI and what is just from regular aging,” Mathewson said.

While TBI is not a common affliction, Mathewson believes her words can connect with a variety of different audiences.

“It helps you cope with trauma,” Mathewson said. “Everyone has traumas, just different kinds.”

Prior to the accident, Mathewson was a published writer and contributor to “Cup of Comfort.” For more information visit Mathewson’s website at louisemathewson.com.

Contact Natalie Conrad at [email protected]